Wilkes Barre Wrongful Death Attorney | Scartelli Olszewski P.C.
Wrongful Death

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Wrongful Death

There’s nothing worse than losing someone you love without warning, whether it’s due to an accident, negligence, or another unfortunate situation. There are few things worse than knowing that their death was preventable.

If someone you love, whether a spouse, parent, or child, has lost their life due to someone else’s mistakes, you don’t have to shoulder the burden alone. You can seek damages for the wrongful death your family has experienced with the help of a wrongful death attorney in Wilkes-Barre, PA, from Scartelli Olszewski, P.C.

What Is a Wrongful Death?

In Pennsylvania, wrongful death is caused by the unlawful violence or negligence of another. In such lawsuits, the responsible party’s actions do not have to be intentional for a death to qualify as wrongful.

As you can imagine, wrongful death claims work on the same theory as personal injury claims. In short, wrongful death occurs when one person dies due to the legal fault of another person or entity, resulting from one of the following.

  • Negligence-based incidents such as car or truck accidents and slip and falls
  • Medical malpractice
  • A result from an intentional act such as a crime

Think of a wrongful death claim as a personal injury lawsuit your loved one could have made had the accident not resulted in their death. However, because it is a civil suit, you can recover only financial compensation. You cannot seek to charge someone with a crime or to see them face jail time. Only the local, state, or federal courts can do that.

So, speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer first. Only a seasoned lawyer can help you explore your legal options and take the necessary steps to recover desired compensation.

What Are Common Causes of Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death cases don’t apply to everyone who passes before their time. A wrongful death has to include an act of negligence that directly or indirectly leads to someone else’s death. However, this does not apply to certain types of employment, like those in the military or law enforcement, where the job is considered dangerous to their person. Also, wrongful death doesn’t include accidents caused by unpredictable weather and criminal activity.

This means causes of wrongful death include but are not limited to the following.

  • Automobile Accidents: If someone’s poor driving and/or navigational skills lead them to cause an accident that ends your loved one’s life, you can sue them.
  • Workplace Injuries: This is one of the most common causes of wrongful death. It occurs when an employer and/or employees don’t follow proper safety regulations, and the employee (your loved one) dies in an accident caused by their workplace environment.
  • Defective Products: If any product fails to work as advertised and then leads to someone or fails to stop someone from dying, you can sue the manufacturer, seller, or development company.
  • Dangerous and defective property: When a property gets mismanaged or negligently treated, you can hold the owners responsible for any injuries happening on their property. This cause of wrongful death applies to both residential and commercial properties.
  • Medical Malpractice: You can sue the doctor and/or hospital for wrongful death if a medical professional fails to give proper medical care due to negligence, overworking, or misdiagnosis and the patient dies.
  • Pharmacy Error: If someone is given the wrong prescription and dies due to its effects on their body, you can hold the pharmacy or the doctor writing the prescription responsible for the wrongful death. However, if the deceased was factually informed of the drug’s side effects and how it may worsen their condition, then you might not be able to sue for wrongful death.
  • Medical Device Malfunction: You can hold several entities responsible if a medical device malfunctions, leading to the death of your loved one. You can hold different individuals or entities depending on the situation. For example, the responsibility belongs to the doctor and their hospital if it was the wrong medical device. However, the manufacturer is responsible if the device was correctly prescribed but incorrectly manufactured. When the medical device cannot work as intended, it is the fault of the development company that designed the device.
  • Nursing Home Negligence: You can file a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one dies in a nursing home because the staff did not properly care for them rather than natural causes.

Who Can File for Wrongful Death Cases?

Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Statutes Annotated (PA CSA) §8301 specifies that only direct family members can sue on behalf of the deceased for wrongful death. Direct family members include:

  • Spouses
  • Children
  • Parents

In terms of parents, legal guardians can also file a wrongful death lawsuit. This means if the deceased’s legal guardian was their grandparent, sibling, or another relative, that relative could sue for wrongful death. If they were not the deceased’s legal guardian, then they cannot sue for wrongful death in the state of Pennsylvania. Talk to a Wilkes-Barre wrongful death attorney immediately to help clarify your legal situation.

Out-of-State Wrongful Deaths

Wrongful death cases are handled in the state where the deceased lost their lives, or in the case of workplace injuries, where their employer is located. This means family members living outside of Pennsylvania can still file a wrongful death case in Pennsylvania courts when the deceased died in Pennsylvania.

What Compensation Are You Entitled to in a Wrongful Death Case?

There are a few things that are different about wrongful death compensation from the damages in personal injury cases. For example, a wrongful death lawsuit focuses on helping the surviving family members or beneficiaries.

That said, the court will award damages to compensate for a range of losses. They include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Hospital and medical expenses
  • Estate administration expenses
  • Lost wages and benefits. This typically includes amounts the deceased reasonably would have been expected to earn had they lived for a period of time.
  • Loss of the deceased’s household services, society, comfort, and guidance

If the defendant’s behavior was intentional or malicious, our experienced wrongful death attorney in Wilkes-Barre will also seek punitive damages.

Wrongful death compensation intends to help the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, and/or parents. But the personal representative may still seek damages even if there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent. In such cases, you can seek wrongful death compensation for funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, and estate administration expenses.

What Should You Do if You Experienced a Wrongful Death in Your Family?

The wrongful death of your loved one is devastating. If your family member or loved one has died because of the wrongful act of someone, whether it’s from a trucking or car crash, medical malpractice, or product liability, the legal team at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., a top Wilkes-Barre wrongful death attorney, is here to help.

As a leading Wilkes-Barre wrongful death law firm, Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. has successfully represented families in wrongful lawsuits for decades. Our team of Wilkes-Barre wrongful death attorneys has won millions of dollars in compensation for families suffering the loss of a loved one.

If your family member or loved one died due to the fault of a third party, we can help. Contact us today.